The American Planning Association (APA) hosts the annual National Planning Conference (NPC). The conference serves as a hub to learn solutions and new approaches for the planning community to help solve today’s most pressing problems. This year’s conference in Philadelphia featured UEP alums serving as moderators, speakers, and attendees. We asked them how the program prepared them to be practical visionaries in their field and provided advice to current and future UEPers about to begin their career as planners.
Divya Gandhi is a UEP alumnus who served as a Moderator and Speaker for the Effective Storytelling in Transportation Planning workshop, which facilitated interactive group exercises for participants to gain new tools to harness their inner expert storytellers and apply effective communication strategies at their jobs and in their communities.
Transportation Planner at Kittelson & Associates, Inc.
Year of Graduation
How did UEP prepare you for your current role as a practical visionary?
Tufts UEP program is uniquely designed to cater to both individuals with a planning background and those without. As someone with a planning background from another country, I found UEP’s program to be very welcoming and accommodating, which helped me adjust to the new environment in Boston and find opportunities beyond graduate school.
One of the program’s highlights was the Field Projects we did in the second semester, which gave us an opportunity to connect with local organizations and work as consultants. This experience was invaluable as it provided us with a glimpse of what working in the field would look like. As someone who was exploring the field, this opportunity was particularly helpful and gave me a solid foundation to build on.
The thesis requirement was also a standout experience in the program. Having to work on a compulsory thesis was challenging, but it allowed me to explore a topic of my choice in depth and develop my critical thinking and research skills. My advisor, Sumeeta Srinivasan, was instrumental in guiding me through this process, and the support I received from the program was invaluable.
Overall, the UEP program provided me with a solid foundation to pursue my academic and career goals, and I am proud to have been a part of this prestigious institution.
Do you have any advice for present or future UEPers interested in your field?
As a transportation planner, I strongly recommend taking advantage of UEP’s technical courses, such as Advanced GIS, Intro to GIS, or any courses related to data analytics. These courses will prepare you for any sector of planning you may want to explore and equip you with the necessary technical skills to succeed.
Furthermore, I urge UEP students to stay updated on major issues in planning, particularly those related to public health. Many planners are currently working in the public health sector, and it is a rapidly growing field with numerous opportunities.
Additionally, technological advancements are transforming the planning industry, and many planners are working in the tech sector. It is essential to stay up-to-date with technological advancements and understand how they can be applied to planning.
My biggest advice for UEP students interested in the field is to develop strong technical skills, understand the communities they serve, and keep an open mind and a broad vision. There are numerous opportunities in the field of planning, and by staying informed, technically proficient, and adaptable, you will be well-positioned to succeed and take the discipline forward.
Anything else you want to add?
I would like to add that UEP has an exceptional alumni network, both locally and nationally. As UEP students and alums, we have the privilege of being part of a community that is passionate about planning and committed to making a positive impact. I encourage current and future UEP students to take advantage of this vast network of professionals. Connecting with alumni who are working in the field or have been out in the field for some time can provide valuable insights and guidance. As an alumna, I am always happy to connect with current and future UEP students who want to learn more about my experiences at UEP and in the world of Planning as a professional. It is essential to keep building connections and learning from each other to grow. Thank you again for the opportunity to reflect on my time at UEP and share my thoughts.